The Chicago Cubs clinched their third straight NL Central championship on Wednesday night, and during the postgame celebration in the Busch Stadium locker room, Jon Lester announced something about John Lackey‘s future.
Lackey started Wednesday night and went six innings in a 5-1 Cubs win over the St. Louis Cardinals, but this may well have been the veteran pitcher’s final regular-season start. At least, that’s the impression Lester got in this NSFW speech.
Although Lester added the “probably” caveat, he points to Lackey retiring after this season — his 16th as a big-league pitcher.
(Warning: Video contains NSFW language.)
Jon Lester talking about Lackey being his last regular season start. Players raise their drinks pic.twitter.com/Ca3rMzTSrF
— ⓂarcusD (@_MarcusD2_) September 28, 2017
The 38-year-old Lackey’s contract expires at the end of this season. He signed a two-year, $32 million deal to join the Cubs after nearly 1.5 seasons with the Cardinals. For apparently his final regular-season start, Lackey fared well — allowing two hits and one run while striking out three — and will end the season with 12 wins.
What role he’ll play in the Cubs’ postseason effort is yet to be determined. He could slide in as a reliever behind the Cubs’ top four starters. Should the Cubs make it to their second straight World Series and put Lackey on the roster, it will mark the fourth Series for the right-hander. Lackey pitched for the 2002 Angels as a rookie and 2013 Red Sox prior to becoming a Cubs cog. He owns three World Series rings.
Lackey’s struggled immensely with the long ball this season, giving up 36 home runs; his previous career-most was 31 back in 2003. Lackey lowered his 2017 ERA to 4.56 with this start. His career regular-season figure could end at just a shade under 4.00.
The former Anaheim Angels second-round pick in 1999, Lackey earned one All-Star nod (for the 2007 Halos) and started 23 playoff games, winning eight. His career playoff ERA stands at 3.27 and career K/9 postseason rate of 7.1 is just off his regular-season figure (7.3).